What Grinds Our Gears: We’re not in a state of perpetual panic over the tank farm

The Burnaby Campus is sitting just above a toxic ticking time bomb

The Burnaby Mountain tank farm
“Look Ma! The poorly designed, dangerous energy tech of the past!” PHOTO: Amirul Anirban / The Peak

By: Luke Faulks, Opinions Editor

We complain, but SFU’s Burnaby campus is a uniquely beautiful spot for a school. Secluded at the top of a mountain, we’re as close as you can come to a literal ivory tower of education. But thanks to the Burnaby Mountain tank farm, our stunning locale becomes a death trap for SFU students and staff — and for some reason, we’re not up in arms about it. 

A simple scroll through the City’s 2015 report on the farm will send your blood pressure through the roof. Thanks to the installation, we’re all put at risk of massive fires and poisonous hydrogen sulfide emissions. And because the goons over at Kinder Morgan decided to plonk the farm on the side of a mountain, we’re doubly at risk of fire and fumes when an earthquake occurs.  

“But surely,” one thinks, “an institution that lined up to denounce the project in 2016 has prepared extensive evacuation and disaster relief protocols in the event of an explosion?” Wrong.

SFU did issue new policies for emergency responses, including amendments to the school’s mass evacuation and shelter in place plans. But neither set of plans addresses the fact that both points of egress (Gaglardi Way and University Drive East) intersect right above the tank farm! So, in the event of a fire, go closer to the start of it! In the event of toxic emissions, swing by and take a whiff! 

Every day, thousands of SFU students learn on a campus that’s straddling a ticking time bomb. Beyond the implications for climate change and beyond the implications for the sensitive environment of the Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area, we need to be losing our collective shit over the tank farm’s potential to burn or choke out our campus.